An Inn in Tokyo

An Inn in Tokyo ★★★★½

Silent Summer

Yasujiro Ozu's An Inn in Tokyo exists as a piece of neorealism filled with both struggle and mundanity. It depicts a homeless man and his two sons. He looks for work while his childrem catch stray dogs for money. They fantasise about food and do games of pretend since they have nothing material.

Children will be children, and they will find a way to exist without realising their place in the world. Ozu understood a child's worldview like few directors did, allowing him to create adult films without hyperbolic representations of childhood. His children play and learn, they grow and smile. It is children who can always find the small happiness that let the hours pass by. Perhaps that is why adults in An Inn in Tokyo wish to be childlike again, to free them from responsibilities and an understanding of society.

Ozu was the master of silent cinema. His silent films are effortlessly smooth and his style perfectly suited to a lack of sound. Ozu could have made An Inn in Tokyo later on in his career and it would still work. Though this is a rare Ozu film that contains one tracking shot! More significantly though, An Inn in Tokyo has a complexity to its characters that far exceeds many other silent films. Overall it's beautifully simple, like all Ozu films, but the characterisations are rich.

An Inn in Tokyo is a film of surrogate families and suffering children. In poverty, desperation takes over. Doing what is right may mean doing smaller wrongs. This is the pain the characters face. There are some dark contemplations on what it means to have nothing. This is why An Inn in Tokyo is so hard-hitting. It is devastating, a film to cry at. Yet it also has a beating heart, drawn from the belief that we can find kindness and be kind ourselves. The ending is uncertain. A man walks away from the camera, through an industrial wasteland. A soul is saved, but at what cost?

Yasujiro Ozu Ranked

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